IE 10 User Agent String Receives Update From Microsoft – What it means in simple terms

Microsoft has updated the user agent for Internet Explorer currently available with Windows 8 Release Preview. This update has been announced along with IE 10 Platform Preview 1.

According to the IE 10 blog at MSDN, the IE team has made two additions to the user agent available inside IE. These additions are supposed to enhance the compatibility views for older browser supported sites. However the features of the browser itself remains unchanged.

In actual, these additions are directly related to the compatibility view of browser, which scales problem of out-of-place menus, images or text. Obviously these changes are more important for website authors, as compared to normal end-users. The compatibility view automatically corrects these objects of websites, thus making older sites looking better.

The first addition enables detecting whether a machine has touch-capable hardware via a new Touch token, the aforementioned blog post reads. Keep in mind that users with touch-capable hardware may also use a mouse and keyboard. You can see where this token fits into the user agent string in the examples below.

IE10 on a machine without touch-capable hardware:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2; Trident/6.0)

IE10 on a machine with touch-capable hardware:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2; Trident/6.0; Touch)

How this works

To detect the touch capability of client side, the site developers can simply use the user agent string:

var hasTouch = navigator.msMaxTouchPoints > 0;

If the property exists and returns a value greater than zero, the user’s PC has touch capability.

The second addition to the IE10 user agent string is an architecture token aimed at devices running under Windows RT (Windows 8 on ARM architectures). It is meant to complement existing values for other architectures:

32-bit IE10 on 32-bit Windows:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2; Trident/6.0)

32-bit IE10 on 64-bit Windows:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2; WOW64; Trident/6.0)

64-bit IE10 on 64-bit Windows:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2; Win64; x64; Trident/6.0)

IE10 on Windows RT:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2; ARM; Trident/6.0)

So basically you can make the difference in both 32-bit and 64-bit users. Actually these additions are the successors of IE 9 user agent strings with these two modifications:

  • The value of the “MSIE” token is now “10.0”
  • The value of the “Trident” token is now “6.0”

These new additions are applicable for both Metro and Desktop view. They are intended to explore the same platform capabilities of the browser.

Web developers can enhance the performance of their websites by implementing these additions rather than improving site environmental variables. The power-users can make the manipulations, to optimize their site performance.

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An Electrical Engineer by profession, Kapil is a Microsoft MVP and a Microsoft Content Creator. Please read the entire post & the comments first & create a system restore point before making any changes to your system.